How Badly Do Republicans Want Tax Reform? (Maybe Not That Badly)
The answer depends, it would seem, on the tender emotions of Republicans, who are already complaining that tax reform might have to be scrapped if Obama is mean to them. While the president seems capable of fighting his opposition on one issue and negotiating with them on another, so far Republicans are acting like some moody toddler, ready to start bawling and breaking toys at the first hint of frustration. One report after another from Capitol Hill (see here for an example) shows Republican legislators complaining that although they really want to undertake tax reform, it’ll be impossible if Obama takes executive action on immigration, because that would hurt their feelings so. “He’s so mean!” is going to become an all-purpose excuse for Republican inaction, on tax reform and everything else.
If they’re sincere about their desire for tax reform, what’s to stop Republicans from—and see if you can follow me here—writing a tax reform bill? They don’t actually need the White House’s help to do that. In fact, earlier this year Representative Dave Camp, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, put out a comprehensive reform plan full of tough choices and potentially unpopular provisions. Republicans promptly distanced themselves from it, Camp declined to run for re-election, and the plan died.